It has taken me over a month to find the strength to write this post. But I felt it important to share this with all of you. If you are a cancer survivor then you are probably all too familiar with survivor's guilt. You are also familiar with touchstone's I would guess. Well, I recently lost one of my close survivor touchstones and at the same time feeling lots of survivor's guilt. Then there is also tons of fear in the mix.
When I was diagnosed 10 years ago at the tender age of 31 there wasn't anyone I knew who had been through it. Well, except one person. It was my cousin who had been through it 2 years earlier. She was also in her early 30's with 2 kids at the time. The day I got the news she was one of the first calls I made. It meant so much to talk to someone who was family, and close to my age who had survived a mastectomy and grueling chemo that I was facing. Neither one of us ever thought about breast cancer. You see we don't have a history in our family on either side (our mother's are sisters).
We each handled the emotions differently but had similar treatments. I in NY was treated at Sloan-Kettering, and she in Houston was treated at MD Anderson both top cancer hospitals. She took tamoxifen and I opted not too. I have not had genetic testing and her results were negative. We both changed our diets and questioned environmental causes. I felt a bond with her as family but also as a fellow survivor. I always looked up to her growing up, she was 4 years older than me, so beautiful and kind.
I got a phone call from my mom a week before July 4th letting me know she was in the hospital. And it was bad. I was shocked. You see, I had no idea that her cancer came back 5 years ago. Nobody told me because my cousin didn't want me to worry. Still looking out for me as she did for everyone in her life. She passed away on July 5th. As I write these words I still feel such disbelief. My cousin did everything her doctors told her, even took tamoxifen, went for all her followup tests, made it 8 years before it came back. Here I am alive, healthy, and a 10 year survivor. I cannot help but feel guilty about that and yet at the same time fear for my own life. This feeling surfaced its ugly face when my dad passed from cancer 3 years ago and my sister-in-law passed 6 years ago also from cancer but is much stronger now because it much stronger now.
Next week I go for my annual mammogram and I cannot put into words the fear I am feeling. I know that it is partly from my cousin's death. She was a survivor touchstone for me. I am beginning to think that there has to be some big book up there with all of our arrival and exit dates etched in it somehow. I have to believe there is something more or I don't think I can keep moving forward and let go of the fear . . .
As most of you who have been following my blog know I am a big believer in the mind body connection. I also feel that the food I put into my body can help me stay healthier. Now granted I didn't come to this knowledge until after my breast cancer treatment but better late than never is what I say!
Before my cancer diagnosis 10 years ago I never drank water, never ate veggies, and rarely ate fruit. I lived on diet soda filled with chemicals, prepared foods found in boxes and canned soups. Since then I have traded diet soda for water sometimes with a squeeze of lemon, eat fresh fruits and veggies and occasionally use a juicer. Don't get me wrong, I still do need my pizza and ice cream but try to keep that in moderation.
I was already interested in Sheryl Crow's new cookbook when I was contacted by her publisher to review her new cookbook. I have enjoyed Sheryl Crow's music for years and was inspired by her as a fellow breast cancer survivor. I was already interested in her new cookbook when I was recently contacted by her publisher to do a book review. As I have made significant changes to my own nutrition in my life as a cancer survivor I was curious to see what I could learn.
In the book Sheryl shares recipes created by her personal chef Chuck White. It is broken down into recipes for the seasons which was refreshing to see. I don't know about you but my apetite certainly changes from winter to summer. The book includes tons of recipes including appetizers, soups, snacks, main dishes, and some yummy desserts like the vegan chocolate-mint brownies and watermelon margaritas I am dying to try! It also encourages organic, local ingredients whenever possible which I think is important as well.
If you want to win a copy of Sheryl's new cookbook all you have to do is leave a comment below! That is it! I will be announcing the winner on Wednesday June 1st! Good luck!
PS . . . Feel free to share this blog post if you know any peeps that would be interested in the giveaway! :)
I am a self taught artist, writer, photographer, pug lover, chocoholic, cancer survivor and author of the memoir "Breastless in the City".
For me it is all about the journey. Art takes me away to another place. It heals me.
I have fun with mixed media, abstract art, and digital collage. I hope to inspire with you with my creations!